Posted June 13, 2011
Your smile is one of the first impressions people receive about you. Are you comfortable with the message your smile communicates?
Many people hesitate to smile because they are embarrassed by the look of their teeth or their gums. But thanks to advancements in cosmetic dentistry, several options are available to assist individuals with improving their smiles. Let’s review the advantages and disadvantages of each procedure.
A veneer is a thin piece of porcelain the dentist cements to the surface of the front teeth to enhance your smile. It is designed to cover up teeth that are stained, crooked, chipped, spaced unevenly or overlapping. Porcelain veneers are strong, durable, easy to maintain and difficult to stain, usually lasting more than 10 years.
To design the veneer, the dentist will remove a small amount of the tooth surface to ensure a natural look. Although veneers are designed to fit your teeth, sometimes there is a slight color difference from other teeth. Once the veneer is in place, you may need to practice clearly pronouncing words with “s” and “f” sounds.
During a bonding procedure, dentists affix tooth-colored dental material to the teeth to improve chipped or broken teeth, fill in gaps, reshape or recolor teeth. Bonding lasts for many years and requires one or two dental visits to complete, depending on the restoration need. But the material is more susceptible to staining or chipping as compared to other cosmetic dental procedures.
Dentists use crowns to restore teeth with extensive decay. Once the cavity is removed, dental impressions are taken of the tooth, and a crown (also known as a cap) is prepared at the dentist’s office or offsite at a dental lab and then affixed to the tooth. Crowns typically last the longest of all cosmetic restorations.
Considered an easy procedure to improve your smile, whitening (also called bleaching) involves a chemical process that lightens tooth color. Individuals can have the procedure performed at the dentist’s office or use dental materials at home. Depending on the individual’s personal habits, teeth whitening may last one or two years. Some people who are sensitive to the whitening chemicals temporarily may experience sore gums or teeth, but the discomfort should disappear after the procedure is completed.
When teeth are broken off or missing, dental implants may be an option for filling in the gaps. If an individual has sufficient jaw bone, a titanium implant post is surgically screwed into it to serve as an anchor for a natural-looking false tooth. The individual must have sufficient jaw bone in the area under the missing tooth to hold the implant. Otherwise, a bone graft procedure may be required to strengthen the jaw.
Dental implant procedures can be time consuming and expensive, especially if a bone graft is required. And some individuals report experiencing discomfort, pain, bruising and swelling for several days following the procedure.
Your gums have the important job of holding your teeth in place. Depending on the shape of the mouth, some people show a lot of gum tissue when they smile. Others may have lost gum tissue due to periodontal disease or as a natural result of shrinking and receding due to age. Gum surgery is a cosmetic procedure performed to correct these problems. Depending on the specific need, the gum may be sculpted with a laser to remove excess tissue to make teeth look longer, clean up and remove areas that are diseased, or graft new gum tissue to strengthen teeth and protect the roots from continued shrinkage and risk of decay.
As with all surgical procedures, individuals may experience some discomfort, pain, bruising or swelling following the procedure while the gum tissue heals.
If you want to improve your smile, consult with your dentist to explore a variety of options to create the look you desire.
If you have used cosmetic dental options to enhance your smile, what procedure(s) did you choose, and are you pleased with the results? – Ken VanCleave, Ameritas Group